A powerful example of the relationship between humans and the natural world lies in the breath — the action of inhaling oxygen produced by the natural world and using it to fuel our lives. In observance of World Breathing Day, April 11, 2022, you can explore relevant resources and activities in my ArcGIS StoryMap “One Breath at a Time,” embedded below, then join me on a journey through the anatomy of our lungs and how they connect us with the entire Earth. Continue reading The Whole Earth Breathes: Connections to Explore on World Breathing Day
When you enter new terrain as a Black person, you take the risk that racism will meet you there. You risk entering spaces and meeting people who believe nature only belongs to them, but it doesn’t. I remind myself that I also belong on the mountain or in the water or in the forest. I too have a right to adventure. As educators, it is so important that we help students push back against feelings that alienate them from spaces—especially public spaces. Educators can be conduits for students to embrace what they may not know about nature. Continue reading I am a Black man with an Explorer Mindset. But it wasn’t always like that.
significant value in letting nature be our educator. Whenever I would take my students outside, new questions, observations and connections would arise. This led me to be flexible in my lessons and let the students’ inquiries shape our learning. Trees have always been a subject of interest for me, so when I noticed my class sharing the same passion, I knew that I had to act on it. It was time to center ourselves around the significance of the trees and the stories they have to tell. My class and I journeyed outside most days with the sole purpose to learn and develop a deeper meaning of the natural world. Thus, we became tree detectives, seeking to answer an essential question: What can I learn from the trees? Continue reading What can we learn from the trees?
Seeking knowledge and preparedness (my way of controlling what I could about venturing into the wild), I spent the months leading up to our tour of National Parks in the American West intently reading books and articles and watching documentaries about history, flora, fauna, and wildlife in the parks. I prepared but also braced myself for unpredictable experiences such as a grizzly bear encounter. Continue reading Finding Peace in the Wild as Educators and Bringing the Wild to Our Students
During a time when many of us were spending day after day in the same spaces, it felt vital to renew our appreciation of the outdoor spaces that were still accessible to us, like our own backyards. Quite literally. I leaned on the National Geographic Learning Framework as a guide to create lessons and activities that asked students to go outside and engage with the ecosystems surrounding them. I focused on fostering curious attitudes, observation skills, and knowledge of wildlife and our changing planet. Each week from March to the end of the school year, we released “Science at Home” lessons to support students exploring nature from home. The activities covered a range of topics from compost to pollinators and had options to scale up or down depending on grade level. Our lessons aimed to transform things we might encounter every day into fun activities. A dandelion in the park could now be used for an experiment on osmosis, made into a nature bracelet, or baked into a cookie. Continue reading How Planning Remote Plant-Based Lessons Made Me Into a Student Again